Overhead Micing


Gear Gods presents Studio Pass: Kurt Ballou


Lesson Info

Overhead Micing

So we'll talk about overhead position and I'm going to be able to place um some audio examples of this so what you see in this picture is sort of, uh x y configuration or bloodline bloom line or blue lean actually don't know how to press the guy's name but you guys know he's like a like a german german guy from england to develop this technique and essentially his his technique is essentially the same as x y what using figure of eight patterns and I did not record figure of a pattern from these mikes in this position I just did x y, which is two to cardio and microphones that are essentially coincident over the top of the drum set the mike that I used here are sound deluxe e forty nine, which are a large diaphragm to condenser microphone I don't usually use large diaphragm mike's a cz overheads but I do sometimes and they're really classy sounding like so so they're great but not certainly not the only option the reason why I chose thes for this audio example is that I wanted to use a ...

microphone with switchable polar patterns so I could demonstrate the differences between different bowler patterns over a kid and as you see there's no other microphone's on the kid yet so we just wait did some, uh tomatoes samples let me see if I can find them somewhere here my protocol session uh coming out switch over protocols now right? So um take a listen to what x y sounds like which is the position that you just saw in that photo it's ah to um it's too um cardio aid condenser microphones sort of several feet over the snare drum right over the kids so uh see but this sounds like all right that's enough of that if you're hopefully at home you're listening on decent speakers or on decent headphones in here we don't really have the greatest playback system so we're not really discern the differences between some of these tests but hopefully a home you're listening good speakers and you can tell I'll come back to that and we'll give you a little blast to each one again after we go through them all so I didn't adjust any polar patterns in this position and can you switch back to kino move ahead tio to the space payer of overheads and in this position I set it up so that the microphone is each microphone is equal distance to the snare drum and then we're going we're going to hear what each of three polar patterns sounds like in this position. So um um okay, so space pair uh cardio sounds like this all right? So we have a pretty decent stereo spread there and a reasonable amount of separation between the left and the right stuff but they're still you know quite a bit bubble of bleed from the left side of the kit into the right mike and vice versa if you want to cut down on that bleed between the two sides of the kit you can switch those mikes to figure eight and that the intro demo to the drum sound thing you talked about that a little bit where use the figure eight pattern which sort of rejects along the plane between two capsules teo reject the left and right size of the kit so the left side of the kid is really capturing what's right below the microphone and rejecting what's on the other side of the kid uh let's hear what that sounds like so um yeah, you can hear that the stereo image is quite a bit wider on the figure of eight mikes and also the tones a little thinner figure it mike's just inherently have a thinner tone that cardboard or anomie and speaking about me let's hear what the same microphones in the same position sound like in omni mode now this is thie least wide stereo image has the most cross talk from left and right but it's also the smoothest I think may possibly the most flattering tone of the okay so that's what that sounds like now just going quickly zip through each of these again and you can you could see on the screen on the protocol screen the you know I've named each of these files so you can kind of follow along but I'm just going to skip through each one x y again is thie too coincident mikes and then the other three are three different polar patterns of the space payer okay so they're really quite a bit different from each other and when you're setting up your overheads you want think about how how wide in the final mix how wide of an image do you want from the drum set is this going to be a band that has like super hard pan guitars and if that's the case you might want to narrow a more narrow image from your drum sets he might want to choose your mic positions and you're mike polar patterns based on that what I ended up deciding to do on this record was not to use these mikes at all and let's go back to the keynote for second here and we cannot just leave it on the keynote for for a few minutes I'll play something from pro tools but you don't have to switch back what I ended up using on this record was a technique called o r t f which stands for uh something something french uh office do the radio diffusion television on france say so o r t f is what that stands for you could just go out or t f that's what I do it's two microphones to cardio and microphones positioned about here with the part and at one hundred ten degrees apart from each other so amusing one mic stand a little stereo bar to put these two microphones which are the made by s e they're called are in seventeen, which stands for the rnc answer rupert neave who's probably most famous consul designer in the world he's not known for his microphones but I think these mikes her killer and they're quite a bit thinner sounding than the mikes you just heard, but I decided on this record I wanted my overheads really mostly to capture some attack from the drums were mostly they're just going to be simple mikes and it was going to get the body of my drum sound from my close mikes and I do think about that a lot as I'm not only choosing overhead microphone position and microphone choice but also how a signal process the overheads is if I'm going to be getting my primary drum sound from my overheads or from getting my primary drum sound from my close mikes that sort of back filling with the overheads I try not to get too much of the same type of sound from multiple sources I feel so there's fewer phase conflicts when when you know you're capturing the bulk of a sound from a single source mohr on that topic later so let's just take a listen to my final overhead sound using these mikes and then there's also a bit of e q I used some empirical labs little freaks, which are some very precise parametric e hughes to sort of reduce the harshness of us um of the symbols accentuate the sizzle from the symbols and remove some of the sub bay stuff little conflict with the depth of the close mikes and I also removed some lower mid range and I feel like the low low mids air really crucial in in the mix and also in tracking in painting and setting the soundstage so stuff with mohr low mid range will feel closer to you and stuff with with less low mid range will feel further from you. Um and uh so I was trying to set a little bit more of a, uh, watching this band that a medium sized rock club type sound stage I was trying to be like if you're trying to write in the band I would have more low mid range if I'm trying to put them in a a stadium, I might have even less low mid range so this is what my final overhead sound in a being all right for that so that ended up working well, I think with with my with my close mikes so pretty much started gone through this let's talk oh, talk about room mike's now yeah reminds uh play a quick little actually played quick little video about remix what you just saw was and where to hear audio examples of these was three different room mike positions so the first one was spaced pair of on the microphones which are actually say mike's that he used on overheads for the for the overhead example space payer of on me large life ram two condensers in the room maybe like six or seven feet back on the kit spread out so I got a nice stereo image for that and there's those mikes we're looking directly at the kit the room that I recorded his is fairly neutral it's not particularly ambiance not totally dead that's not particularly ambient so let's go back to pro tools for second and take a listen to what direct remarks sound like okay? And then you remember the video you saw the second thing that you saw that quick little video was have some walls on wheels I rolled in front of the mikes and now that's going to give me amore diffused sounds so in order for the drum sound to get to the mikes can't take a direct path to the mike's gotta bounce around a little bit before it gets to the mikes, so at first listen that actually sounds less flattering because it's a less direct sound from the drum set but as a component in a drum mics with close mikes, it actually gets out of the way of the close mikes, mohr and it's functioning mohr like a reverb. So now you have fewer phasing conflicts between your close mikes. And you have mohr independent control of ambiance versus tightness so let's hear how the the diffused microphone sound with walls in front of them. All right, pretty cool. Now, the last thing you saw in that video was that same mike in my bathroom. And I also have you didn't see in the video there's another have another ice, a booth that sort of opposite my bathroom. So if you were the drummer sitting behind the drums says you look out into my live room in the back left corner there's a doorway to my bathroom in the back right corner there's a doorway to a nice a booth and my eyesight booth is small, that ambience there's all all reflective surfaces in there, aside from the amps. Um, storing in there and same thing with my bathroom it's it's, aside from the ham storage it's pretty reflective. So I'll actually put microphones back there around the corner, sort of totally out of sight of the drum set, and, um, those mikes are fully diffuse, they're really getting on ly like second third order reflections in there. So not only are they getting on ly reflected sound, but their distance from the kit is a little bit further. Now you can fake that distance by adding a little bit of pre delay to your own ra mike's if you're recording a smaller space. But I don't. I have I think that my mikes, that distance is pretty good. It's enough that I get the feeling of spread from, like, you know it goes like close mike overhead, ramo, it spreads out over time and too much delay. You start to feel a flam, but I think I have just enough delay naturally in my room to get that to sound cool. So this one, you know, it's, even mushier than the last example, but works even better in talking to close mikes and staying out of the way. The clothes nice. So let's, check that out. All right. So again, uh, just quickly, the direct direct remarks and if used for mike's, really that's the really diffused remarks. I did a little bit mohr processing to that when we did the final, the final set up. I think I moved those walls around in my room and sort of made a wider stereo image of those things did a little bit more queuing to them a little bit of compression to kind of squashed the attack of the ra mikes and bring out the residence of the those rooms and compression could do a lot. Teo increase the perceived size of the room so let's get out cool. All right, I want just quickly play um a uh what the whole drum set sounds like just these air just, you know, raw level set tracks with in the box mix of my just the raw, raw tracks from mixing let's let's just remove miami l said this other track called close room, but I was just like a mano closer michael ended up using let's don't talk about that too much to want to remove miami and mike seeking here what that sounds like a metal bring in the big room mike's he can see how that affects the sound so we have the punch of the close mikes, but we also have the size of the big room, so it gives you the impression that you're you're there in the room with the kids but it also, you know, gives you control of the close mike so that you can you can rip through mix you actually have a little bit of time for questions if you want to start up sure so you were talking about blowing up your royals and seven steps are you says those air stated to handle high spl is a certain volume acceptable or unacceptable for those mikes bubba block can you talk a little bit you've mentioned blowing up mike's more than anybody I've ever, ever listen teo it sounds like that's something happens teo fairly often can you talk about that a little bit you know avoid it you have to be careful for sure the the royal website they actually have some recommendations on how to make a bass drum with a royal one twenty one and it's not an uncommon problem and they're actually quite good about um you know, servicing their own microphones are not cheap, they're not chief I think that they do they might do like the first replacement for free and then charge you don't quote me on that but you know you do have to be careful in this last, you know, bass drums move a lot of air, you know? I'm sure everyone's as at some point stood in front of bass drum just felt wind coming at them, you know, like, um a uh, you know, arroyo can handle like a super loud guitar being jammed right into the speaker of super lavatory um but like, if you put your mouth on and going you can break the ribbon and that's essentially like what a bass drum is doing to that ribbon elements you gotta you gotta be careful especially with with river mike's don't break michael time but it definitely happens beautiful we've got one more here that I want to get teo from stefanos phoenix never considered or used more of a simplistic mike set up or are you a die hard fan of isolated drum sounds? Most of the records that I'm working on aesthetically they're looking for isolated kind of drum sounds that close heavy close mike stuff it my approach to that very much depends on what the guitar sound is going to be if I know it's going to be a wall of guitars then close my eyes I think I'm going to be necessary to cut through the wall of guitars in terms of what is the most here pleasing to me if a band is using amore if this is more space in their guitar tone I love using or relying mostly on on ambient microphones whether it be overheads closer mike's, distant ra mike's teo get most of the drum sound there's also you know much talked about on the internet assorted minimal miking techniques clean johns thing in recorder man or whatever and that stuff is great fun to experiment with and when I do that stuff unless I'm really committed to doing it all also set up some close mikes as a back up, and I'm going to talk in the mixing portion a little bit more about this. But if you, you could do like the close making sounding things and have your primary drum sets come from the indian mikes and just use the close mikes to backfill it. And in those cases, you might actually want to rely heavily on suddenly sliding your tracks digitally, so that they line up with the ambien mikes that you're gonna be choosing so you can sneak those close mikes in more or less noticed than then. A conventional methods. So it's, it's, it's, it's. Kind of strange to think about doing a lot more technical engineering work to make something sound more minimal. But in reality, like it's, ah, it's. An interesting technique that lets you get away with using more sort of a minimal tone, but having a little bit extra control over it.

Class Description

In this two-day course, prolific producer Kurt Ballou will take you behind-the-scenes of GodCity Studios to show you exactly how the magic happens. This all-access studio pass will immerse you in every aspect of Kurt’s distinctive sound — from choosing and setting up gear, to tracking and mixing.

Kurt will show you the basic and advanced techniques he uses in his studio every day, and teach you how to apply them to your own recording — regardless of whether you’re working in a studio or at home with a DIY setup. Using anecdotes from his years behind the board, Kurt will also teach you his best practices for working with bands to extract the best and most inventive sounds.


Keith Foster

First off, even though I'm neither a beginner nor a recording professional, this class is absolutely worth the money you spend on it - especially if you plan on making heavy music. There are enough tips, tricks and guidance in here to get your money's worth many times over. That said, as an indie artist who goes to a studio to record drum tracks, then does the rest ina home studio I found some of the things disheartening. Much of the class follows a "I do this thing using item / amp / microphone / plugin (X), it's pretty cool" vibe, and it sounds cool.... until you check the price. As an example, the 'stereo buss processing' section sounds fun to try, except for the part where the three pieces of gear cost about $8K. As a result I found myself figuring out how to incorporate the essence of what he was saying without the gear budget to do so. Maybe I'm not the intended audience but a little more concept and less gearhead would have been even better. That said you should totally get it, it's a low price for so many hours of great content.